Newsletter 2017/8
Newsletter 2017/8



Dispute Settlement ­

Maritime Boundary Conciliation between Timor-Leste and Australia: A Success Story (Straits Times, 28 September 2017)

The announcement by the Conciliation Commission, in Copenhagen, on 1st September 2017, that there had been a breakthrough in the conciliation proceedings on maritime boundaries between Timor-Leste and Australia, was happy news. Prof Tommy Koh explains the facts of the case, the nature of the conciliation proceedings, the elements of the package deal agreed upon by the two parties and some lessons learnt.

Human Rights

In Bangladesh, UN aid chief urges scaling up response for Rohingya refugee crisis (UN News, 3 October 2017)

With over half a million Rohingya refugees having fled their homes in Myanmar since violence erupted in late August, the top United Nations humanitarian official has underscored that the solution to the crisis needs to be found within Myanmar. “The root causes of this crisis, as you know, are in Myanmar and the solutions need to be found in Myanmar,” Mark Lowcock, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, told journalists at a news conference in Cox’s Bazar, where many of those fled are taking refuge. However, the sheer numbers of those in need mean that much more has to be done. “The conditions in the camps are terrible. We need to do a lot more to scale up beyond what we have done so far,” added Mr. Lowcock, urging the international community to scale up their support.

International Economic Law 

US backs India’s opposition to China’s One Belt, One Road initiative (Hindustan Times, 4 October 2017)

The United States has reiterated its support for India’s opposition to China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, a part of which traverses Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, with defence secretary James Mattis telling lawmakers “no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating such a project”. “In a globalised world, there are many belts and many roads, and no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating ‘one belt, one road’,” Mattis told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing on Tuesday on the US administration’s new Afghanistan-centric South Asia strategy.

Philippine Government commits support to AIIB, OBOR initiative (Philippine Star, 4 October 2017)

The Philippine government has committed to support the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the One-Belt One-Road (OBOR) initiative, the Department of Finance (DOF) said. During a forum held in Beijing last week, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez cited the benefits brought about by the establishment of the AIIB, as well as the implementation of the OBOR initiative which he said may be considered as “the largest and most comprehensive cooperation project of the century.“ “The Philippines is happy to cooperate with both the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Belt and Road program. Both initiatives will bring lasting benefits to all countries of this region. Both will set the conditions for more comprehensive trade among the countries in this part of the world,” Dominguez said.

International Organisations 

More “difficult now for ASEAN to reach consensus” (Today, 3 October 2017)

It has become more difficult for member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to reach consensus on issues, and it is important for them to continue to strike a balance between national and regional interests, said Ambassador at Large Bilahari Kausikan. Noting that the greatest challenge to the regional grouping is from its internal dynamics, Mr Kausikan said the domestic politics of several ASEAN members have become more complicated, and this has in turn made their calculations of national interests more complex.

Law of the Sea 

US, Thailand call for peaceful resolution of South China Sea dispute (Economic Times, 3 October 2017)

Underlining the importance of a peaceful and stable South China Sea, US President Donald Trump and Thai junta leader chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha have reaffirmed their shared commitment to peaceful resolution of the dispute. The two leaders, who held talks at the White House, in a joint statement, highlighted the importance of a peaceful and stable South China Sea, a vital waterway for global commerce, and freedom of navigation and overflight.

Despite Common Threat in Beijing, Other South China Sea Rivals Still Spar Among Selves (VoA, 4 October 2017) 

Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam claim nearly all or parts of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer sea. Since 2010, the smaller governments have focused on resisting China militarily and diplomatically. They resent its reclamation of land for artificial islands, a buildup of military infrastructure and passage of coast guard ships far from its shores. But the non-Chinese claimants also spar with one another because the end of the Cold War in the 1990s left it unclear how far vessels from one nation could go without infringing on one another, said Collin Koh, maritime security research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Warning shots and even more targeted gunfire were more common then as “Southeast Asia was trying to figure out bilateral maritime disputes,” he said.

UN maritime tribunal elects South Korean as president, triggering concerns in Japan over disputed sea (SCMP, 4 October 2017)

The appointment of a South Korean legal expert to the United Nations tribunal that oversees maritime disputes has caused concern in Japan over whether he will use the position to push Seoul’s agenda on a long-contested stretch of water between the two nations.


Immediate past AsianSIL President, Judge Paik Jin-Hyun, elected as ITLOS President

AsianSIL President (2015-17), Paik Jin-Hyun, is now the current President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, having been elected to that position by his colleagues on October 2nd. The Society appreciates Judge Paik's dedication and leadership as President of the Society and the ITLOS too is now in the fortunate position to benefit from those same qualities. We congratulate Judge Paik on his appointment to this distinguished position.

A formal release is available here:, and an announcement is also up at our Society’s webpage:

Call for Submissions – Asian Journal of International Law

The Society’s Journal is soliciting submissions for future issues. Articles should be between 8,000 and 12,000 words (excluding footnotes) and be submitted exclusively to the AsianJIL, with publication subject to double-blind peer-review and editorial discretion. For details on style and the submission process, as well as information on how to subscribe, visit For enquiries, please email Many articles are available FREE for download at We encourage readers to make full use of this opportunity to access the latest international law scholarship. Please also visit our Facebook page and recommend AsianJIL to your friends and colleagues.

Call for Submissions – Melbourne Journal of International Law

The Editors of the Melbourne Journal of International Law (‘MJIL’), Australia’s premier generalist international law journal, are now inviting submissions for volume 19(1). The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2018. MJIL is a peer-reviewed academic journal based at the University of Melbourne which publishes innovative scholarly research and critical examination of issues in international law. Submissions and inquiries should be directed to For more information please visit

New International and Comparative Law Quarterly Discounted Subscription Rate for AsianSIL Members

AsianSIL members can now benefit from a heavily discounted personal subscription to the International & Comparative Law Quarterly. To obtain an annual online and print subscription for £75/$98 AsianSIL members should email<> and request the Asian Society of International Law discount rate.

 NUS Centre for International Law (CIL) ASEAN Documents Database

The ASEAN Documents Database is a free, user-friendly, internet resource of selected ASEAN and International Law Documents. About than 600 selected ASEAN documents and 260 International Law documents are now included in the database. Please click here to access the database.